Misneach, the new céad coileán, joins Bród, the céad madra in Áras an Uachtaráin


In Gurtinard, March 2021


Listowel Races 1979

Dick Cotter sent me this photo. Dick can trace his Listowel roots back to 1809.  Jimmy Cotter was his grandfather. He lived in Glounaphuca. Timothy F. (nicknamed Tasty because of his neat appearance) was Dick’s father.

In the picture taken at Listowel Races in 1979  is Dick’s wife, Barbara,  presenting the Kingdom County Butter Churn trophy to the connections of the winning horse. Dick was food sales manager of Kerry Co-Op at the time. Dick is on the extreme right of the photo and Eddie Hayes, chairman, and Denis Brosnan, C.E.O.  are on the left.



Mary Foley,  shared  this old one on Facebook



                    By Mattie Lennon

           Look what we’ve done to the old mother tongue

           It’s a crime they way we’ve misused it.


  So the song says. But did we do it any damage? John Dryden said that a thing well said will be wit in all languages.

In my part of Wicklow the transposition of vowels seemed to be almost as popular a pastime as locking referees in car boots. And did it do any damage? (no..I’m not asking about depriving the GAA arbitrator of his liberty on a winter’s day in Rathnew, I’m referring to a bit of readjustment of the A, E, I, O and U’s )

 In my part of the world the language of Synge survived into the final decades of the twentieth century and beyond.

Only recently a neighbour with a somewhat defective ticker told me that he had been fitted with a “Peace-maker”. I know of a case where a lady with notions asked an apprentice carpenter to make a “Mate-Seaf”. Nowadays incredulous gazes meet the disclosure that it used to take a lot of courage, in Kylebeg, to say tea instead of “tay” and to refer to unpolluted H2O as anything other than “clane wather” meant you were getting above your station

And you’d soon be reminded that it wasn’t long since you didn’t have an arse in your “brutches”.

The “hins” were fed off the “led” of a pot and when it was necessary to communicate with absent relatives the “pin an’ ink” were taken down and that reviled member of the rodent species was called a “rot”.

It would be said of the less-than-honest that he would  “stale the crass ev an ass”.

A welcome visitor would be invited to ” take a sate an’ give yerself a hate” and if you weren’t “plazed” by a frank comment you were said to be “aisy effinded” and you were sure to be “med game of”.

The single arch spanning a “strame” was a “brudge”.

Those who through hard work (or a windfall) would usually progress from thatch to a “toiled” or ” ganvalized” roof on their dwelling and every County Council cottage had an outside “labatery”.

A “dacent little girl” was an unmarried female, of any age, who wouldn’t let a male in a mile of her.

Whatever about the Catechism definition of Grace in our part of the world it was ” the juice o’ fat mate”.

And of course if you were of an argumentative dispossession it would be said that you  “would rise a row about the kay o’ the dure”.(Songwriting , of course, was easier than elsewhere because floor rhymed with sure and bowl rhymed with howl)

 A snob might have ” a collar an’ tie on his nick an’ a watch on his wrust” but no male would go so far as to sport a “gould” ring.

Nobody would admit to having “flays” themselves but would comment that a certain neighbours house was “walkin wud thim”. You could expect a “could day'” whin the win’ was from the aist”. Ewes “yaned”, you ploughed “lay” and you “Bilt” the “kittle” ( unless of course it “laked”.

You “gother” the sheep, “muxed” the pig-feeding and you could “bate” the living daylights out of someone  “whin timpers ed be ruz”. But in such “is-ther-no one to-hould-me-coat” situations there was usually someone to make “pace”.

The piece of binder twine used to restrict the movements of the canine was a “lade”.

Beyond was “beyant” and an old neighbour of mine went so far as to do a bit of consonant-juggling resulting in “belant”.

The clothes were held on the line by “pigs” and a brave man (or maybe one who didn’t have the courage to run away) was described as a “hairo”.

Looking back on it now I reckon that the hillbillies of the old black-and-white “Westerns”, with their “varmint” and “critters” would have fitted in perfectly in the Lacken of my youth. And I’m sure they would have adapted very quickly to describing the economy-conscious as “mane” and making stirabout from “yalla male”.

If you are not from my neck of the woods perhaps like D.H. Lawrence you will marvel: “That such trivial people should muse and thunder in such a lovely language”.  

If, of course on the other hand, you were reared anywhere between Knockatillane and Shillealagh you will recognise “…..that dear language which I spake like thee”.